The word ‘city’ in France is a funny word. Not literally of course — the translation is ‘ville’ — but in the fact that Paris is the country’s only huge city (over 12 million by some counts, when taking into account the larger metropolitan area). The next biggest city is Lyon with over 2 million, and then the numbers start to drop. But this isn’t a blog about population statistics… it’s about how the cities of France are a bit different and more pedestrian friendly than many in the U.S., and why we recommend walking your way through each of them!
Check out 6 sites not to miss in Paris:
See our culinary tours in Paris:
The landscape, for one, is quite different. While there are a couple ‘skyscrapers’ in Paris, there are not many… and the UNESCO World Heritage site has some opinions on that too. After all, Paris is one of the last preserved “horizontal cities” in the world, with so many historic — and short — buildings spread across its 20 arrondissements, or neighborhoods. Many buildings have no more than six floors!
The same can be said for many of the other cities in France. From Lyon to Bordeaux, the cities feel a bit more compact in ways, with the city’s activities, including sightseeing, restaurants, and shopping, centralized in a certain area. Chances are too, when you walk out the door to lunch or for shopping, you’ll see a whole lot of people out and about — even Avignon, which is home to less than 100,000 people! The French are social people after all, and they love to walk… which is easy to do in so many of the cities in France.
While we at The International Kitchen love our smaller medieval villages too, don’t overlook the cities — outside of Paris too — when it comes to discovering the culture and history of a place. They’re more than jumping off points to the beautiful countryside!
What’s your favorite city in France, other than Paris, of course?
By Liz Hall
Sign up to receive our newsletter, which includes travel tips, recipes, promotions, and information on our best cooking vacations.